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Friday, March 30, 2012

Philippine Navy Eyes Joint Maritime Exercises with Thai, Vietnamese Counterparts

Naval Shipyard X46 or the Hai Long Shipbuilding Co. in Vietnam which is capable of building warships and military vessels (image : ttvnol)

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Navy plans to hold joint maritime exercises with its Vietnamese and Thai counterparts as part of efforts to strengthen ties with the navies of neighboring Asian countries, a military spokesman said.

Lieutenant Colonel Omar Tonsay disclosed this following the visit of a Philippine Navy delegation led by its chief, Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, to Vietnam on March 11-14 and Thailand on March 14-17.

The Philippine delegation toured the Naval Shipyard X46 or the Hai Long Shipbuilding Co. in Vietnam, which is equipped with state-of-the-art shipbuilding and repair facilities and which is capable of building warships and military vessels, Tonsay said.

“This visit is expected to provide opportunities for the conduct of joint maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea (northeast of Vietnam) and other common maritime domains following proper diplomatic channels under guidance from the Department of National Defense,” Tonsay said.

“Sharing of shipbuilding expertise is clearly seen as one possible area for cooperation during this tour,” Tonsay added. The delegation, he said, suggested possible training for Philippine Navy personnel at the X46 shipyard.

Likewise, the leaders of the two navies discussed a proposal to establish a communication hotline between the operations centers of the Philippine Navy and the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) especially for search-and-rescue operations.

Pama and VPN’s commander in chief, Admiral Nguyen Van Hien, also signed the standard operating procedure regarding interactions among Philippine and Vietnamese navies’ personnel in the vicinity of Southeast Cay and the Northeast Cay Island, located between the two countries.

Nguyen offered to host the first “Navy to Navy Talks” with the Philippines in Vietnam in the last quarter of 2012, the Philippine Navy spokesman said.

“The visit paved the way for continued Staff to Staff Talks and exchange of visits between the Philippine Navy and VPN, which is hoped to sustain the active engagements of the Philippine Navy and the VPN and effectively address maritime security issues in common maritime domains,” Tonsay added.

In Thailand, Pama and other delegation members met with the Thai Ministry of Defense and held exploratory talks on avenues of cooperation for the Philippine Navy and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN). Joint maritime exercises and ship visits by the Thai Navy to the Philippines were also discussed.
Likewise, the RTN also committed to host Navy to Navy Talks to further discuss matters that will strengthen the bilateral activities of both navies.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Philippine Navy to Sign Contract for MRVs this July

Two MultiRole Vessels (MRVs) along with three new helicopters will be ordered to the Navy. While PT PAL offers Strategic Sealift Vessel LPD for Philippines Navy (photo : Defense Studies)
MANILA — Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in charge Vice Admiral Alexander Pama on Thursday expressed optimism that the contracts for the service's two multi-role vessels (MRVs) will be signed by July this year.

With the expected signing of this vital document, the contracting shipbuilder can proceed ahead with the construction of the above-mentioned ships as per design specification of the Philippine government.

The acquisition cost for the two MRVs is estimated to be worth P10 billion.

Pama said that the two vessels would greatly increase the PN's patrolling and disaster relief mission capabilities as the proposed ships are capable of cruising even at the heaviest seas,aside from being equipped with helicopters and and LCMs, allowing them easy access to calamity-stricken communities.

Aside from the MRVs contract, the PN chief stated that the contract for the three brand-new helicopters for the naval service will also be signed by the end of the year, giving the command's air arm new equipment to fulfill its mandate of patrolling and securing Philippine maritime sovereignty.

Aero Vodochody Would Like to Sell L-159 Training Aircraft to Philippines

22 Maret 2012

L-159 training aircraft and light strike aircraft (photo : Defense Industry Daily)
Philippines expressed interest in Czech L-159 training aircraft. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said after a meeting with his Philippine counterpart, with the potential for sale are not yet any specific proposals.

Manufacturer L-159 Aero Vodochody for several years with the support of the State vainly trying to sell these aircraft. The company came during a meeting with Philippine Foreign Minister Alberto del Rosario.

"I mention it, they expressed interest in light, but still it is not so, it would be exceedingly specific," said Schwarzenberg.

Aero Vodochody will want to get a contract to supply training aircraft for the Philippine Air Force. The selection process but not yet listed.

Schwarzenberg's visit follows the Radio reporter Paul Pollack.

Minister Schwarzenberg also met with Philippine President, the President of the lower house of Parliament, Minister of National Defence, Minister of Transport and Communications and many others. It gave several interviews to local media.

In meetings presents the Czech Republic as a country that is interested in cooperation with the Philippines, which exported to the Philippines would like more goods because trade between the two countries sounds much better for the Philippines.

Czech companies in the Philippines are not entirely unknown. In Manila City trains run Czech, Czech machinist there imported hydropower.

Philippines on the other hand wanted in the Czech Republic to develop renewable resources. They decided to put an end to the core before they ever managed to nuclear energy use. Strongly developed and IT fields. Traditionally, much of the investment coming into elektrospotøebního industry.

The Philippines is overpopulated, many people do not work, and therefore go abroad. Therefore, the Philippine government is trying to improve the situation of foreign investment incentives.

Karel Schwarzenberg, proceeds from the Philippines to Vietnam. There is a strong need for some modernization - the construction of incinerators, dams, and Czech companies can. Vietnam but has the disadvantage that borders China to compete and it is not easy.

AFP Ordered to Boost Deployment of Rapid Reaction Forces

The joint forces would consist of an infantry battalion capable of air mobile operations, a mechanized infantry battalion, a marine battalion capable of amphibious operations, a squadron of tactical helicopters, a squadron of close air support aircraft, a heavy airlift aircraft and a strategic sealift vessel. (photo : John K Chua)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) ordered the military to boost its capability to deploy rapid reaction forces since the mobility of troops has been affected by aging naval and air assets.

In a planning guidance to military officials, the DND said the rapid reaction forces would be used to address contingencies and to move troops on short notice.
“Due to the aging of PN (Philippine Navy) and PAF (Philippine Air Force) lift platforms, the mobility of our forces within the theater of operations is severely affected,” the DND said.

“There is a need to acquire a capability to rapidly move our forces that form part of the national maneuver force,” it added.

Armed Forces resource managers were ordered to collaborate in building a capability to deploy two joint rapid reaction forces to be located strategically in Luzon and Mindanao.

The DND planning guidance, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, said the forces would address two major contingencies in any part of the country at the same time.

DND said each of the joint forces would consist of an infantry battalion capable of air mobile operations, a mechanized infantry battalion, a marine battalion capable of amphibious operations, a squadron of tactical helicopters, a squadron of close air support aircraft, a heavy airlift aircraft and a strategic sealift vessel.

“In order to establish this capability, joint combat maneuver and supporting forces should have the means to move (like airlift and sealift platforms) on short notice,” the planning guidance read.

The DND has directed military resource managers to acquire medium airlift capability for short haul flights and strategic sealift capability. It also ordered the military to improve its capability to move ground forces within the area of operations.

The limited state funds have hampered the military’s modernization efforts.

Only about half of the patrol ships in the Navy’s inventory are operational and with an average age of more than 30 years old. Some of these vessels are more than 60 years old.
Almost half of the Navy’s transport vessels are non-operational while the operational small crafts are of an average age of about 21 years old.

Last year, the Navy acquired its first Hamilton-class vessel from the US Coast Guard to enhance its external defense capabilities. It also inaugurated the BRP Tagbanua, a landing craft utility that is 100 percent Filipino made.

On the other hand, a 2010 report by the Commission on Audit (COA) said the Air Force “virtually has a non-existent air deterrent capability” due to aging air assets. COA said as of 2010, only 91 of the 339 aircraft in the Air Force inventory are full mission-capable, 81 are inactive and the rest are for disposal.

Early this month, the Air Force inaugurated its four brand-new combat utility helicopters acquired from Polish company PZL Swidnik SA.

Four more combat utility helicopters are scheduled to arrive in November.

Monday, March 19, 2012

PAF Not Giving Up on Aged, Battered Hueys

Philippine Air Force currently has 40 Huey helicopters (photo :TriztaN19)

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines -- The crash of another Philippine Air Force UH-1H Huey helicopter in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte last Sunday has again revived questions about whether the Vietnam War-era aircraft ought to be retired and replaced.

The PAF currently has 40 Hueys, which have served as the workhorse of the armed forces for transporting troops and supplies, and for search and rescue operations since the late 1970's.
In December 2010, the US turned over five refurbished Hueys to the Air Force.

But the PAF’s Huey fleet has been plagued by deaths and injuries from numerous crashes since the late 1980s, earning the aged choppers the derisive nickname, “flying coffins.”

Last year alone, five personnel were injured in a crash on April 1 and three lives were lost in another mishap in Sulu last October.

The incident in Kitcharao, the first this year, saw seven injuries.

Despite this, Lieutenant Colonel Elpedio Talja, commander of the PAF’s Tactical Operations Group 10 based in Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City, said: “We are still confident that with proper maintenance, the ‘Huey’ is still airworthy and an essential part of our air force. Our existing helicopters are still reliable and perform well. All that is needed are good checkups and spare parts.”

He said the Air Force has no plans yet of retiring the existing UH-1H fleet, which will be working together with the recently arrived PZL Swidnik W-3 Sokols from Poland.

“The purchase of eight Sokol combat utility helicopters is a welcome (development) for the armed forces. Actually there are many modernization projects in the pipeline; a lot of plans are in the works like long range patrol aircraft, light attack helicopters and fighter aircraft,” he said.

Last February, four of the eight Sokols, which are based on the Soviet Hind attack helicopters, were delivered to the Philippine government. The remaining choppers will be delivered in the second half of the year.

As it is, the PAF remains way behind other air forces in the region.

The last of F-5 Freedom fighters, which had been used for decades as interceptors for external defense, were decommissioned in September 2005.

The need for long-range patrol aircraft like the US’ P-3 Orion, has also been in discussion since the late 1990's as part of military’s modernization program.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Military Rethinks F-16 Acquisition

F-16 fighter aircraft (photo : Sorte)
THE military is rethinking its planned acquisition of F-16 fighter jets from the United States owing to various reasons, foremost of which are the maintenance and cost.

This was disclosed by Maj. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz, Air Force commander, during the turnover of four W-3A Sokol Combat utility helicopters to the Air Force in Clark Field, Pampanga, over the weekend.

He said that while the F-16s are among the military’s options, the Armed Forces high command is also seriously looking into the fighter jet’s acquisition cost and the cost of their maintenance.

“The F-16 is just one of the options. We are looking whether it will be beneficial for us in terms of cost, in terms of lifespan because it is also already secondhand,” de la Cruz said.

The US fighter jet has initially become the “aircraft of choice” by the military under its modernization program, with no less than Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin earlier announcing it was being considered for the Philippine skies.

The F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is a multirole jet fighter built by General Dynamics for the US Air Force. Designed as an air superiority fighter, it has evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft.
De la Cruz said the US fighter is just one of the many platforms the Air Force is considering along with other aircraft of such type.

In January Gazmin unveiled his plan to modernize the military through the procurement of tanks, long-range patrol aircraft, modern vessels, radar systems and jet fighters.

Until last week, he said they have not come up with any particular product yet despite the continued scouting for hardware, which already took a team from the Department of National Defense to Italy.
Still, the defense chief said the contracts for the modernization project should be finished within the middle part of this year or by November at the latest.

Washington had asked the government to come up with specifics on its shopping list with the US, and this was reportedly one of the reasons the bilateral talks originally scheduled this month had been moved to April 30.

During the turnover of the Sokol helicopters, de la Cruz said combat utility helicopters should provide the Air Force with increased capability to provide battlefield coverage to ground forces.

He said the arrival of the helicopters and the other materiél should scratch the hurting joke that they only have “air” and “no force.”

Repair of 2 Cargo Planes to be Finished Soon

A PAF C-130 Hercules, body number 3633 (photo : pdff)
MANILA, Philippines - Two cargo planes undergoing repairs are expected to be ready for operation by October and will complement the lone C-130 aircraft being used by the military.

Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief Maj. Gen. Lauro de la Cruz said the repair of one C-130 plane would be completed by July while the other aircraft would be rolled out in October.

“Hopefully by July, the C-130 that is being repaired in America would arrive. Then by September to October, the C-130 being repaired in the Philippines would be rolled out,” De la Cruz told reporters over the weekend.

At present, PAF has only one C-130 plane in its inventory. The cargo plane – a C-130 Hercules aircraft – is being used to carry supplies and troops.

De la Cruz said four brand-new combat utility helicopters are expected to arrive in November.

The four constitute the second batch of Sokol combat utility helicopters acquired from Polish company PZL Swidnik SA.

The first four Sokol helicopters arrived last Feb. 14 and were inaugurated last Friday. The acquisition of the eight helicopters costs P2.8 billion, including support equipment, spare parts and training.

Members of the media, including this reporter, were the first civilians to ride on the new Sokol helicopters.

Last Friday, media were treated to a 40-minute tour over parts of Clark, Crow Valley in Tarlac and the crater of Mt. Pinatubo.

During the tour, pilots repeatedly raised their hands to show that the helicopter can fly even without human maneuvering due to its autopilot capability. The helicopters can also transport cargo, conduct rescue missions and perform security operations.

They are equipped with a night vision goggle compatible cockpit, allowing them to operate day and night in all weather conditions.

The helicopters can be fitted with an M60D machine gun on each side of the cabin and can accommodate 10 passengers.

De la Cruz said the newly acquired Sokol helicopters will be deployed in parts of Luzon.

“These (air assets) will be more focused in Luzon because the training area is here. We have to prepare our pilots and mechanics (to use them),” he said.

During the launching of the Sokol helicopters last Friday, De la Cruz said jokes that PAF is “only air and no force” will soon be a thing of the past.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jets, Radar to Boost Phil's Territorial Defense

AMX International - strike aircraft (photo : Malcolm Clarke)

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Air Force (PAF) expects the delivery of several jets and radar equipment for territorial defense during the term of President Aquino.

PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said the acquisitions would boost the country’s defense stance against external threats.

He said six surface attack jets and trainer aircraft; a long-range patrol plane, one air defense radar, and a special mission airplane are expected to arrive in the country starting this year until 2016.

“This is a result of the defense acquisition system and the senior leaders’ meetings that they conduct very often. Hopefully, we will see initial deliveries by 2013 to 2014 or at the most 2015,” Okol said.

The new military equipment would be part of the second phase of the military’s modernization program to be implemented from 2012 to 2016.

The first phase included the acquisition of defense equipment that would improve the Armed Forces’ capability to conduct internal security operations.

The PAF would also acquire eight helicopters, seven attack helicopters, a C-130 cargo plane, and a long-range patrol aircraft and 18 basic trainer planes.

The 18 basic trainer planes have been delivered while others are in various stages of procurement.

The third phase of the modernization program to be implemented after 2016 would involve the acquisition of advanced multi-role fighter jets and long-range patrol aircraft and radars, Okol said.

Four brand new combat utility helicopters from two foreign firms arrived at the former Clark Air Base in Pampanga last month.

The “Sokol” helicopters were purchased from Augusta PZL Swidnik of Italy and Poland.

Four more combat utility helicopters from Augusta PZL Swidnik are expected to arrive in the fourth quarter. The acquisition of the eight helicopters costs P2.8 billion.

The military earlier announced that the first batch of helicopters would arrive in November 2011.

The four helicopters, however, arrived three months after.

The Sokol helicopters have night-vision capability and could accommodate 10 passengers.
The military expects the completion of the delivery of P3.4 billion worth of military hardware this year.

Okol said the PAF also expects the delivery of eight combat utility helicopters, three multi-purpose attack aircraft, equipment for coast watch stations, and 33 multi-purpose rocket launchers for the Presidential Security Group.

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